New Delhi: Four months after India conducted airstrikes in Balakot following the Pulwama terror attack, Pakistan reopened its airspace for international civilian flights on Tuesday, leading to normal air traffic operations between India and Pakistan.
“Ever since the Pakis-tani airspace was closed, we had to reroute our flights south of Pakistan. The flying time for long-haul flights towards the US increased by 90 minutes with additional fuel usage. The US-bound flights had to be stopped at Vienna, where the crew had to be changed. It takes three hours. As Pakistani airspace is now open, aircraft utilisation will go up and the crew requirement will come down by 25 per cent. Flight operation costs for US-bound flights may also come down by Rs 20 lakh one way and for Europe-bound flights by `5 lakh. From today, night flight operations may be on the original schedule, as it was earlier before the closure of Pakistani airspace,” an Air India spokesperson said.
Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority on Tuesday issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) at 12.41 am (IST), saying the country’s airspace has been opened with immediate effect for all types of civil traffic on “published ATS (Air Traffic Service) routes”.
Shortly after Pakistan’s move, India also issued a “revised NOTAM”, annou-ncing that normal ATS had resumed. “After cancellation of NOTAMs by Pakistan and India, there are no restrictions on the airspaces of both countries, and flights have started using the closed air routes, bringing significant relief for airlines,” the civil aviation ministry said in a tweet. “This is great news. A big relief to air passengers,” it added.